This art is on the side of one of the Austin Public Library branches in East Austin. I found it by chance when I stopped to take word photos from another sculpture out front, and I love it. I have it as the screen saver on my computer at work, and I have a framed photo of it in my kitchen.

This is my sign off to this summer’s blog – the future is a blank page, what will you write on it?


Future travels

I’ve always wanted to go to Japan, but it seems tricky to time it to enjoy seeing the cherry blossoms while there. Kind of like a friend of mine who came to New England from Switzerland hoping to see the legendary fall foliage…and missed it by 2 weeks. Nature is pretty unpredictable. Plus I think part of me wants to travel to the Japan I see in Hiroshige prints, not necessarily the frenetic Tokyo of the 21st century, and I’m pretty sure that’s not possible – short of someone discovering time travel.

Then there are always those things you never really knew you were so fascinated by…until you started looking more closely.  For instance – unique manhole covers. Yep.  Seems like a crazy reason to go somewhere, but since I love doing colored pencil rubbings of street pavers (Barcelona!), tiles (Seville!), and such (yes, I have a fantastic manhole cover rubbing from Prague, of all places), it’s got appeal.

These  covers make me want to take a trip to Japan and stand in the middle of the street, risking a car running me over, while I enjoy a close-up and maybe do some rubbings.

And while we’re on the subject, strange as it may be…these covers make me want to time travel to the France of yesteryear…and stand in the middle of the street, risking a horse and carriage running me over, while I enjoy a close up and maybe do some rubbings.

In the end, no matter where I go, I’ve realized after all these years that I have a very specific approach to travel – which is to wander neighborhoods without much of a specific itinerary at all and just try to keep my eyes open and see what I come across. I was just reading some articles on Study Abroad and the City from Frontiers for an upcoming API project, and realized during that process that I seem to be a 21st century female flâneur (some might say a flâneuse), as many conflicting realities as that seems to encompass. I find it interesting that my approach, which has evolved in the 15+ years I’ve been traveling, had its origin during my first-ever study abroad experience in Paris, the very city where flâneurs strolled 19th century streets, where Walter Benjamin explored layers of society with his Arcades Project, and where Guy Débord’s theory of the dérive (or “drift”) first developed.

Most places I’ve been in Europe and Latin America are rich territories for this sort of approach, but Doha really wasn’t for a variety of practical and social reasons…which is likely why my thoughts upon wrapping up this blog naturally turn to future travel opportunities.


After so many posts on different places in Doha, I feel like a lot of ground has been covered…that being said, this final post on the city showcases some of the landmarks and places not yet shared that make Doha what it is.

The Oyster and Pearl monument

The Qatari flag sculpture

The Qatar Foundation “Think” sculpture

The city skyline at sunset

The water’s edge at sunset
(a bit blurry)

Dhows on the water

The Nouvel skyscraper with brise-soleil in Islamic patterns

Sleek yachts at The Pearl development

“Welcome” sign at the Mathaf (Arab Museum of Modern Art)

Doha parks sign advertising free wireless – everywhere!


Dates are a big deal in Qatar, and I imagine in most of the Gulf States. They are served with Arabic coffee as a sign of hospitality.

They are also eaten with a glass of water to break each day’s fast during Ramadan.  Here are some photos – before and after, really.

One store in Doha with exceptional dates is “Bateel”. They carry different varieties, and also discuss their health benefits on their website.

I also wanted to share the page on dates from the exceptional book on Souq Waqif that I bought as my main Doha souvenir (published by a company called “Architecture Beauty Culture Design“.

Advanced writing resource

Years may pass before I need this resource.  I may never need this resource.  But some of my students may need this resource, and it looks amazing, so I am sharing here. Phrases to help your essays sound much more sophisticated.


Al Tawash

One of my first afternoons wandering around Souq Waqif I saw this building, and was captivated by all the variety in its stonework decorations. Here is the building and some close-ups of its designs.

Once I actually looked at their sign, I realized this restaurant – Al Tawash – is one Ghina had mentioned, because it offers traditional Qatari food.  Since we may take our students here, I decided to go with Ghina for my “farewell” dinner my last week in Doha.

I planned to finish out this post writing about and showing off some of the dishes we ordered, but I forgot to take photos once the food came.  My stomach always wins. I did get a great shadow shot of one of their terrace lanterns, which is consolation to me, but maybe not to those readers who think a restaurant post should be related to food and not the building and designs and patterns. ; )

Sheikh Zayed Mosque, VII

And so we come to the end of this week focusing on the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. If you never got a chance to read about my trip there, you can do so here, and you can see other photos of the mosque by looking at this week’s other posts.  Last, but certainly not least, today’s shots focus on the Iznik panels on the outside walls of the mosque. (Sorry for the glare – tiles are shiny!)
*Click on any photo to make it larger and you can go through the set from there.